FACT: The New York Times’ Front Page Anti-Gun Editorial Was Misleading And Deceitful, And Here’s Why

silencers and guns

I already posted on the ethics deficits in the New York Times front page editorial (First time since the 1920s! AHHHHHHH!!!) that was gaining such embarrassing hosannas from liberals and anti-gun zealots over the weekend. To sum up that post, the Times wrongly connected its hype to a terrorist incident irrelevant to its argument, simply to gain emotional traction; made an impossible and largely symbolic demand, focused on a class of guns that has minimal impact on national gun deaths; and, like most calls for “gun control” of late, including the President’s, was aimed at gaining incremental public acceptance of gun confiscation and banning, while pretending otherwise.

That post did not point out, however, that the Times intentionally neglected to inform its readers and those it hoped to persuade (or mislead, panic, or stampede) of the above essential news that is not only “fit to print,” but that must be printed if a newspaper is going to claim that “the attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms.”

The fact is that per-capita murders in the U.S. are at their lowest level since FBI records began (in 1960), and they are trending downwards. There is no “crisis,” at least no gun crisis. Terrorism is another story.

The Times makes the point that “motives do not matter to the dead” (a failed attempt to justify piggy-backing the grandstanding editorial on a terrorist attack that no plausible gun regulations would have stopped), but it is just as true that lethal weapons “do not matter to the dead.” If it is, as the Times piously says in accusing them of callousness and corruption, the job of elected leaders “to keep us safe,” our elected leaders, by the evidence of the statistic, are doing an excellent job.

The dramatic Times front page bloviation announces that the Times, like other gun-hating citizens, politicians and groups, prefers that Americans be murdered with instrumentalities other than guns, and is willing to gut a constitutional right to accomplish that goal. Okay…I don’t personally think that’s worthy of a front page sermon, but okay: it is good to know the current state of progressive support for individual rights,which is to say, abysmal. Nonetheless, an ethical newspaper still has a duty to let readers know what the true context of an editorial is, which in this case wasn’t the world of facts, or public safety, but misleading political activism. A terrorist attack was being used, cynically, as a springboard for anti-gun advocacy (and also to distract from the Woolly Mammoth in the room, the inconvenient truth that radical Islamic terrorists, including one that has sailed thorough State Department “screening,” killed 14 people in California), and not the urgent need to address a “gun epidemic.”

There are many ways to spin, slice and dice  the FBI statistics, of course. How low would the murder rate be, for example, were it not for the addition of minority drug-dealing gangs in the inner cities, a factor that the previous, higher rate years lacked? Wouldn’t that be a more productive and honest subject for a thunderclap Times editorial?

Note that “murders” precludes suicides. Don’t you think suicides should be off the table when  anti-gun advocates are talking about Congress’s duty to keep us safe? If the concern is people shooting other people, why are suicides included in the gun deaths statistics used by anti-gun activists? (Easy answer: to inflate them, that’s why.) One might be tempted to ask if the increase in gun sales and gun ownership has been a factor in lowering the murder rate. I don’t believe that, but I would sure want to be sure before I decided to mess with a healthy trend.

Yes, the dramatic decline could be purely demographic, with aging baby boomers killing fewer people than they used to, and so what? If the Times is going to make a big deal over the fact that this is its first editorial foray onto its front page since President Harding, why did it wait so long? Why no Big Editorial in 1979, for example, when Democrats had both Houses of Congress and Jimmy Carter was President, and murders were at their highest point, a.k.a. “The attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms”?

That’s an easy answer too: because Democrats had both Houses of Congress and Jimmy Carter was President. The Times’ sense of indignation and urgency is oddly linked to its partisan preferences.

The Times is welcome to its opinion, no matter how polluted by partisan bias and based on specious logic and dubious motives. It is not welcome to state such opinions while hiding facts that undermine its position and credibility, however. Meanwhile, those who cheered this exercise in irresponsible journalism either reveal themselves as fans of the ends justify the means when it comes to removing the First Amendment, or they must admit to being duped by a newspaper that successfully used emotion and confirmation bias against them.

Whichever it is, and I don’t see a third explanation, it’s nothing to be proud of.

Let me add that I notice that the Supreme Court has declined to review a challenge to Chicago’s “assault weapons” ban. Good. Banning civilian ownership of assault weapons makes sense, though eliminating them is impossible. If a city’s elected leaders choose to do so,  that’s a legitimate decision.

I also notice that Chicago, like many other large cities (governed by anti-gun Democrats) is in the midst of an epic rise in murders, in spite of its ban.

____________________________

Pointer: Instapundit.

Facts: Washington Examiner

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts, and seek written permission when appropriate. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work or property was used in any way without proper attribution, credit or permission, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at jamproethics@verizon.net.

72 thoughts on “FACT: The New York Times’ Front Page Anti-Gun Editorial Was Misleading And Deceitful, And Here’s Why

  1. To discuss gun violence in response to San Bernardino is foolishly, or cynically, delusional. And I should probably add, dangerous.

  2. I find it interesting that when the plain text of the Second Amendment says “shall not be infringed,” the Supreme Court won’t even touch a case which SHOULD result in a law being tossed. Yet Anthony Kennedy and four other justices had NO PROBLEM pulling a justification for imposing same-sex marriage across the country – never mind it was NEVER mentioned in the Constitution, and thus, left to the people and/or the states to decide.

    • Inquiring Mind said, “Yet Anthony Kennedy and four other justices had NO PROBLEM pulling a justification for imposing same-sex marriage across the country – never mind it was NEVER mentioned in the Constitution, and thus, left to the people and/or the states to decide.”

      Nice painfully obvious deflection! What you intentionally failed to mention is that fact that the constitution also doesn’t mention marriage at all so using your failed logic no one should be able to be married.

      After some bantering around conversations about same sex marriage, here is something a friend of mine, AllAmerican11B, wrote a while ago this. I think it’s one of the most well thought out arguments I’ve ever read about same sex marriage from a Christian.

      Maybe that will put an end to your deflection so you can actually discuss the topic.

      • His sentiments pretty well reflect how the libertarian camp here has expounded on the debate.

        His only issue is being an infantryman. Maybe if he were an Airborne 19D…or even a leg 19D…

        • texagg04 said, “His sentiments pretty well reflect how the libertarian camp here has expounded on the debate.”

          Sure, but how do you view his opinion other than Libertarian? Did he make some good points, some wrong points, etc… what did you think of the opinion?

          texagg04 said, “His only issue is being an infantryman. Maybe if he were an Airborne 19D…or even a leg 19D…”

          If that’s what you were doing, why push that MOS rivalry button here? AllAmerican11B was 11B 82nd Airborne Ranger most of his Army career; I was 11B also.

          • I KNEW there something wrong with you, but I couldn’t quite get my finger on it.

            Your friend’s opinions are very similar to mine. If you have the time, you should peruse the knock-down drag-out discussions related to the marriage discussion on this blog. Carve out an hour or two of your schedule if you want to go down that route.

            His post was thorough yet succinct.

            “If that’s what you were doing, why push that MOS rivalry button here?”

            Because we are MORE than just serious arguments here (though that is clearly 98% of the content).

      • You make a good point. I always thought that if a State wanted to make a stand against same sex marriage, they would simply stop endorsing any new marriages. I think that’s a much more rational approach than Kim Davis’s position. I see nothing in the Constitution that requires a state to issue marriage licenses. They would still have to recognize marriages from other states, perhaps, but they could at least sleep soundly at night knowing THEY didn’t put their imprimatur on such a union. I’m sure some constitutional scholar will tell me why that wouldn’t work, but I’m surprised the Cruz camp hasn’t run with it.

        • It is rational from a purely constitutional point of view. It isn’t practical however to undo over a centuries worth of legal approval of MILENNIA’s worth of cultural approval just to say “no” to fraction of the population.

      • “Nice painfully obvious deflection! What you intentionally failed to mention is that fact that the constitution also doesn’t mention marriage at all so using your failed logic no one should be able to be married.”

        Actually, that is basically what I think should happen. Marriage has always been a religious sacrament. In England, this was controlled by the State through the State, Anglican Church. In the US, it was regulated by the State Churches as well. When we got away from established, state churches in the early-mid 1800’s, the states kept control of marriage. If we really believe in a separation of church and state, we need to stop regulating and dictating church functions.

        How many social problems do we have today because of state marriage? If my wife and I divorced on paper, but kept living our lives as if nothing happened, we would get ~$10,000/year in benefits from the state and federal government. How many people are living in poverty today because the state favors the single mother with kids family? How much crime happens because the people in such family can’t earn legitimate money, but they can make money illegally without losing benefits?

        Benefits in my state for single mother with 2 kids
        Housing: $6000/year
        Food Stamps: $5400/year
        Daycare: $7800/year
        Totally free medical care: ~$10,000
        Total: $29,000/year + any welfare (cash) provided

        Benefits if this mother with 2 kids marries the father making $15/hour
        ($30,000): some food stamps

        Now Resurected Today was being deceitful when it was written “using your failed logic no one should be able to be married”. Marriage does not require the state, it never has. If it did, Henry VIII would not have had a problem. The churches should just marry whomever they wish to each other. Find a church, get married. Not religious? Fine, I’m sure the atheists will have their own marriage ceremonies. The state shouldn’t care.

        • Michael R. said, “Now Resurected Today was being deceitful when it was written “using your failed logic no one should be able to be married”.

          With all due respect to your opinion, you should have done a better job comprehending what was written in its entirety not as an isolated single phrase. Now go back and reread what that statement was directly replying to and see if you can understand the implied sarcasm.

          Apology accepted.

          • No, I stand by my statement. The ability to be married has nothing to do with it being in the Constitution or not. Governmental approval is not required for marriage to exist as assumed you knew. My only mistake may have been in underestimating your ignorance.

            • Wow Michael you’ve really got to learn to read and understand better; now get your head out of that place that the sun never shines and put your thinking cap on dude!

              I never, EVER said or implied that marriage has anything to do with the Constitution; it was the blogger Inquiring Mind that implied that with his comment! I never, EVER said or implied that government approval is required for marriage! Plus, my initial statement regarding the Constitution was clearly SARCASM; do you understand what sarcasm is, or are you just purposely being obtuse?

              You have the bold audacity to talk about me being ignorant when you are the one that can’t seem to understand a simple sarcastic statement even after it was pointed out to you in a previous comment! It would have been better for you to have not replied and be thought the fool, but now you’ve opened your mouth and shown us a clear picture of just how foolish you can be.

              Do you spew this same foolish nonsense all the time or did you just target me for today’s installment of projectile spewing?

              Your choice, your consequences.

              I’m done with this useless conversation with you, go irritate someone else with your nonsense for a while.

  3. You had me up until “Banning civilian ownership of assault weapons makes sense…” They are, as you stated, “a class of guns that has minimal impact on national gun deaths.” They are commonly used for many more “non assaultive” sporting purposes and provide substantial household protection to thousands upon thousands of homes and families. Thus endorsing their ban (again) simply promotes the Times’ goal of “gaining incremental public acceptance of gun confiscation and banning, while pretending otherwise.” First the “assault weapons,” would go, then semi-automatic rifles, then semi auto handguns, and eventually, we’re Australia but with a criminal subculture with continued access to illegal firearms across our porous borders . Many of us rightly view this predictable process as a constitutional slippery slope issue of the first magnitude.

    • It IS a slippery slope, but doesn’t have to be. As I keep saying, in the abstract, put forth in good faith, reasonable gun regulations are fine. It makes sense to ban a weapon that nobody uses much and that has more damaging uses than benefits, and a city government should be able to choose to do it.

      The Times and Obama do not put these demands forth in good faith, though.

      • So, does California pass the ‘reasonable gun regulation’ test? Remember, these didn’t stop the tragedy that we are trying to prevent. So, any ‘reasonable’ regulations will have to be more restrictive than that.

        To own a firearm in California, you have to pass a written test and get a Firearm Safety Certificate.

        You can only buy a firearm on the approved firearm list. Their regulations are quite strict. In fact, even my old police revolver is not legal for sale there, and only grandfathered-in models of handguns are allowed (which will soon all be disallowed). Very soon, all new handgun models will be illegal in California.

        Private sales of firearms must be through a firearms dealer with a mandatory background check.

        Semiautomatic long guns with detachable box magazines, a thumbhole stock, a folding or telescoping stock, a flash suppressor, OR a forward pistol grip are illegal there.

        A semiautomatic firearm with a FIXED magazine over 10 rounds is illegal.

        There is a 10-day waiting period for the purchase of any firearm.

        Only 1 handgun may be purchased in a 30-day period.

        I have heard that they also may inspect your home to see if they approve of your storage arrangements for firearms (can’t find a regulation on it, though).

        No concealed carry in urban or high-crime areas. In rural areas, it is a may-issue situation.

        The California Supreme Court has ruled that the Second Amendment does not apply to California because it isn’t in THEIR Constitution.

  4. Here’s what I don’t understand: People clamoring for Gun Control but absolutely have no interest in forcing the Federal Government to track and classify every type of gun violence that occurs. As it stands, it seems to me (and correct me if I’m wrong) that there’s a lot of “combining” of incidents. Some places will combine deaths and injuries. Some won’t mention the # of suicides in a particular statistic. Some will only report “incidents” but not #’s and if it was justified.

    We don’t have a gun problem in this country. We have a statistics problem.

    • Yep.

      And I think we have a statistics “problem” precisely because the statistics WON’T support the claims that the gun-hating crowd is out for public safety as opposed to simply hating guns or as the ugly side of leftism won’t admit: the disempowerment of the people.

  5. I know my “assault” weapon (I don’t know why Jack is endorsing one of the silliest notions in the gun debate anyway) won’t be killing anyone, unless they are stupid enough to come into my house without my permission.

    And you are correct. It’s all slippery slope.

    • I just mean that the government can legitimately choose to ban certain weapons from private hands, like atom bombs, and the Supreme Court opinion allowing the banning of Tommy guns still holds. If it makes people feel better to limit one class of gun or another using honest stats and candid arguments, fine. It’s not a Second Amendment violation. How about this: if anti-gun zealots would promise to shut up and stop trying to ban guns period, fine. How many citizens buy assault weapons, whatever that means? Small price to pay.

      • Based on the silly (and frankly dishonestly obfuscatory) term “assault” weapons, they seem to be among the most popular firearms purchased. And good. I like my citizenry armed like the standard infantryman is armed.

      • Problem is an “assault weapon” is whatever politician says it is. The laws are defined by cosmetics, not function. Target pistols used in the Olympics like the Walther GSP are banned in Cook County, IL, and New York state because they fit the definition. Under California’s AWB, the ARs used by the terrorists are not. AFAIK, there isn’t a SCOTUS ruling banning banning machine guns, unless you read US v Miller differently than I do. My understanding is that sawed off shotguns restrictions were allowable because they didn’t have a military use. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walther_GSP
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Miller

      • What’s an assault weapon, and why should any small arm be banned? None are entirely banned, but some are restricted for some reason, BTW. You can actually own a howitzer (Destructive Device DD or Any Other Weapon AOW)with the appropriate tax stamp.

        • I think the quibbling about gun control advocate’s lingo is lame and silly. OK, they don’t use or like or understand guns, so they use media shorthand. If there’s a law, it has to describe a specific weapon or weapon with sufficient accuracy to enforce it. I really don’t care what the correct name is: okay, it was the gun or guns that Chicago law banned. Guns are no different from anything else: if a legislature legally elected determines that public safety is served by taking a product out of commerce, that’s fine. If the public objects, it votes for reps who repeal the law. It is settled law that while the 2nd Amendment protects the right to bear arms, it does not guarantee the right to bear any and all arms. Is there a reasonable, desirable mid-point where any citizen without undue delay and inconvenience or expense can buy good and efficient arms to achieve whatever level of security and defense of person and property he or she believes necessary while having some limits on kinds or numbers of weapons, between total unlimited, unregulated gun purchase and Second Amendment repeal?

          Of course.

          • I wouldn’t call it quibbling when it calls out a tactic that is designed entirely to deceive and elicit an emotional response from people who are also uneducated about firearms.

          • And you should care about that deception, if the net result, like Chicago is an INCREASE in violence as the law abiding can no longer protect themselves and the criminals know it.

          • “Guns are no different”

            Oddly enough, the Founding Fathers thought they were different enough to concern an entire article of the Constitution towards them.

            I don’t see a ton of protections written about harpsicords or horse carriages…

            • Now, now…out of context. The right to be armed protects people, not guns. Guns can be regulated, as long as the right to bear arms isn’t infringed and the regulation is reasonable. Regulating a single gun product does not infringe the right, if it’s reasonable.

              That’s the settled law. You have a winning argument…it’s a bad idea to weaken it by overstating.

              • By that standard, we should be happy with muskets. And why should we regulate a specific gun product? Because it dangerously malfunctions? I’m okay with that. Because it’s deadly? Well, unless you think the 2nd amendment is only about target shooting, isn’t lethality the point?

          • But that’s where it all began. It was “reasonable” to restrict automatic weapons and enact the NFA, which spawned pretty much every odious “reasonable” and “common sense” gun law since. Up until a statistically insignificant number of killings between gangsters and occasionally between them and cops occurred, (which were sensationalized by the media, just like today), You could own any small arm you wanted to, just like today. Thompsons were sold in hardware stores for $200, and for some reason vast numbers of people weren’t being mowed down by it. From there, it’s been “you don’t need this cheap weapon”, or “you don’t need this scary looking weapon that is functionally identical, but much less powerful, than a semi-auto hunting rifle”. Next, it will be those rifles, then it will be the really powerful and accurate hunting rifles, then finally handguns and shotguns. There are no “reasonable” gun laws, not even the one restricting automatic weapons. Anyone with real familiarity with guns knows that machine guns are very specialized, limited-use weapons, primarily as base-of-fire tools for infantry movement, or certain very short range tactical situations. In the hands of civilians, they’re nothing more than expensive toys, responsible for four (4) crimes since 1934. Were I or anyone else with a very large amount of experience with guns bent on doing harm to a large amount of people, it wouldn’t be our first choice of weapon. There’s a good reason that few individual weapons in the hands of today’s infantry are not full-auto. More importantly, what exactly is the point of having the second amendment if the government, the same government that the amendment was designed to protect us against in the event it turns tyrannical, gets to micro-manage what types, how many, what capacity, etc.? Isn’t that a big conflict of interest? We’re seeing the result of letting that camel stick its nose in the tent now. Again, I’m talking small arms, and only in the hands of the non-violent.

        • I think the quibbling about gun control advocate’s lingo is lame and silly. OK, they don’t use or like or understand guns, so they use media shorthand. If there’s a law, it has to describe a specific weapon or weapon with sufficient accuracy to enforce it. I really don’t care what the correct name is: okay, it was the gun or guns that Chicago law banned. Guns are no different from anything else: if a legislature legally elected determines that public safety is served by taking a product out of commerce, that’s fine. If the public objects, it votes for reps who repeal the law. It is settled law that while the 2nd Amendment protects the right to bear arms, it does not guarantee the right to bear any and all arms. Is there a reasonable, desirable mid-point where any citizen without undue delay and inconvenience or expense can buy good and efficient arms to achieve whatever level of security and defense of person and property he or she believes necessary while having some limits on kinds or numbers of weapons, between total unlimited, unregulated gun purchase and Second Amendment repeal?

          Of course.

  6. It is fine to disagree with the editorial but to my mind it is overly harsh to call it ‘misleading’ and ‘deceitful’. As from today’s NYT re the editorial: “Sometimes it feels as if we are howling into a raging storm, but that is our job on the editorial page — to say what we think is right and hope we can at least spark some civil debate.” They might have read your blog intro about “the feelings in your gut, the twinges in your conscience …. etc’. The editorial is far more ‘howl’ than ‘argument’, and should be read as such.

    • Deceitful by definition, which is to mislead without using direct falsehood. By definition. You cannot write an editorial that suggests that violence and murders are rising, which this certainly does, when the opposite is true.

        • Andrew, that’s what deceit is. Literal truth, intended to decieve. The paper unquestionably suggests, buy its unusual placement of the editorial, that something is now critical and worse than it has been before. Obviously. Or do you think the Times, putting an editorial on the front page claiming dire moral imperatives and stating that Congress is failing its duty to keep us “safe,’ was intending to suggest that this was a problem that was becoming less serious—which is the truth?

          You either fail to comprehend deceit—which is the most insidious lie because people amkde exactly these kinds of defenses of it—or you’re spinning. Badly.

            • I just read the words (of the NYT editorial) and I wasn’t looking for any fiendish plot to mislead or deceive. I don’t think the stats matter when in such emotional territory. Yes, gun homicide rates are down and that is good, but hardly relevant to those who support most of the NYT position. I was surprised recently to discover abortion rates are also down (MMWR: Abortion Surveillance) but I’m similarly not expecting that to mollify the anti abortion crusade. Confirmation bias drives most of us to be far more receptive to stats which support our prejudices, than those which don’t.

              • Not the point at all. The Times is supposed to deal in facts, not emotion, and if a trusted newspaper says, as this editorial did, “This is such an emerging crisis that we are sounding the alarm as we have not done in 95 years”, then it has to be a crisis, and it is not. A situation that is getting better every year is being solved. The Times withheld hard data that discredited its appeal. Unethical.

                And the post was not about stats. It was about journalistic malpractice. What the Times did was unethical regardless of one’s position on guns.

  7. _____________________

    Jack wrote: “The dramatic Times front page bloviation announces that the Times, like other gun-hating citizens, politicians and groups, prefers that Americans be murdered with instrumentalities other than guns, and is willing to gut a constitutional right to accomplish that goal.”

    “Not the point at all. The Times is supposed to deal in facts, not emotion, and if a trusted newspaper says, as this editorial did, “This is such an emerging crisis that we are sounding the alarm as we have not done in 95 years”, then it has to be a crisis, and it is not.”

    _____________________

    What fascinates me, sometimes more than the Time’s articles themselves, are the comments in the comments section. I often sense that I am seeing a sort of communism-lite cadre who come forward to express more-or-less emotionalized ideas about how they wish the country to be ordered.

    They describe – openly – people of a Republican orientation as being ‘evil’ and the implication is that these people, some vaguely-defined faction, is holding back the country and possibly the world from becoming a world of justice and equity. I have seen this attitude expressed so often that I don’t think I am exaggerating or making it up.

    What is the source or the root of this emotionalism I wonder? Are they articulating a platform that can be described? I mean is it cogent and explainable? Or is it really just rooted in emotionalism and therefor irrational? What happens in a culture, and an intellectual culture, when many people get caught up in emotionalism of this sort?

    Can a people emotionally decide to surrender their sovereignty to a state, or to the state? Could this happen at a sentimental level first, and then be later justified and rationalised?

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